"The HSE don't care if I get frostbitten and die on the front step of my house"

An 87-year-old Ramelton woman, whosuffers from lung cancer and must attend hospital on three days a week for kidney dialysis, has had her Home Help support hours cut.

An 87-year-old Ramelton woman, whosuffers from lung cancer and must attend hospital on three days a week for kidney dialysis, has had her Home Help support hours cut.

Insisted a distraught Josephine Doherty this week: "The H.S.E. don't care if I get frostbitten and die on the front step of my house."

The ailing octogenarian was only informed last week that her home help hours would be reduced from 45 minutes each day, Monday to Friday, to two half-hour periods on Mondays and Thursdays.

Her family has appealed the decision and yesterday faxed off a letter to the H.S.E. headquarters in Manorhamilton. A review will now follow but, meanwhile, Mrs. Doherty has been told that the original hours will not be reinstated during the process.

The Tipperary native, who will be 88 in October, was diagnosed with lung cancer in March 2009 and has survived on one kidney since having the other removed back in 1981.

"My mother suffers from a range of other crippling illnesses and they aren't minor ailments, they're major ones. She need sticks to get around because she fell down the stairs and damaged discs in her back. Her arthritis has also got progressively worse," said her daughter, Rosemary McCafferty.

"She can't carry a saucepan and can't light a fire. There's nine of us in the family but we're all working and we all have families of our own. It's impossible to be here all the time."

The Home Help worker has been assigned a number of tasks on the one hour weekly basis including making the bed and changing the linen when necessary; doing the laundry; tidying the kitchen area; vacuuming the bedroom and upstairs landing once every week; and bringing in the fuel in addition to lighting the fire in the winter months.

"I asked the Assistant Director of Public Health Nursing if she could manage these tasks in such a time frame and she said she could. Well, I would regard myself as pretty fit and I know I couldn't do it," said Rosemary.

"My mother was very distressed when she learned that the home help hours had been cut. We're not asking for anything outrageous. We're doing our best not to be a burden on the system but we're getting no help."

Revealing that she had made around forty phone calls throughout Tuesday in an effort to have the matter sorted out but to no avail, Rosemary maintained: "Some of the family could give up our jobs but that would surely place a bigger burden on the H.S.E. in regards to a full-time carer position."

She added; "We had to fight to get the service in the first place and now it has suddenly being taken away."

Commented Mrs. Doherty, who also uses two hearing aids: "I don't understand why they've cut the hours. It's scandalous. I thought the home help might be increased, not reduced."

The situation is currently under review and the family will be contacted by the H.S.E. when the process is completed.